Singapore Job Vacancies 2017 Report: Experience trumps degrees

Singapore Manpower Ministry's latest report revealed a healthy number of job vacancies in 2017. Here are the findings.

Professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMET) roles dominated job vacancies in Singapore in 2017.

PMET openings accounted for almost half of all job vacancies (48.5%) last year, according to key findings from the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) Job Vacancies 2017 report. This is up from 47.9% in 2016.

The top PMET vacancies were in occupations such as software, web and multimedia developers, teaching and training professionals, commercial and marketing sales executives and management executives. By sectors, they were mainly in public administration and education, financial services, professional services, and information and communications.

Better quality jobs

Industry observers say the growing number of PMET job openings reflects the general market shift.

“As the local economy undergoes structural changes, the type and quality of jobs in Singapore are shifting to reflect these changes,” says Philippe Martinez, Regional Managing Director, Asia & Country Manager, Adecco Personnel (Singapore).

“Better quality jobs are being created, with more roles opening up in growing areas such as digital/information technology, finance, education services, healthcare and professional services.”

Foo See Yang, Managing Director and Country Head of Kelly Services Singapore, says the findings are hardly surprising, especially on the back of an improving economy.

Still, from his observation, the higher number of vacancies could also be due to Singapore employers being cautious in their hiring outlook.

“Most of them are looking to recruit PMETs for specialised contract roles to sidestep talent gaps and remain nimble”, says Foo.

“We expect hiring activity to gather pace in the first half of 2018, especially within the temporary and contract space for engineering and information technology industries.”

Working experience more sought after

Another telling statistic was the fact that academic qualifications were not the main consideration for filling 42% of PMET vacancies. Such positions included civil engineerscommercial and marketing sales executives, and software, web and multimedia developers.

MOM found that these positions typically required working experience more than paper qualifications.

Martinez says there is a greater need for individuals to focus on soft skills development and continuous upgrading beyond obtaining academic qualifications.

“There is also the creation of a skills gap due to technological shifts taking place in Singapore and globally. This means that talent with digital and analytical skills are in greater demand by employers,” he says.

“Apart from upskilling and retraining, internships, apprenticeships and project-based roles provide opportunities for individuals to gain the necessary work experience and boost their employability.”

Foo says that in this type of hiring climate, Singapore workers will have to adopt a lifelong learning mindset in order to stay competitive and lower the risks of their skills becoming obsolete in future.

“We strongly encourage PMETs to apply for classes and workshops accredited by SkillsFuture to either gain a basic understanding or deepen their skills, especially in emerging areas such as cloud computing, fintech, cybersecurity, and advanced manufacturing,” he says. 

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